Anyone who has ever looked for an apartment, knows the process can be both stressful and challenging… Especially if you are new to a city, which was our case! Here are some apartment hunting tips my husband & I came up with, according to our own experience in Montreal. There are plenty of ways of doing your searches but we hope our advices will help you find the perfect home!
Here are some criteria you could explore:
1 – The budget: Should be on your top priority list! Always look for something affordable for you to avoid being in debt. The property owner will generally ask you to pay a certain amount of money as a guarantee. Sometimes it will be the first and the last month of the lease or a few months in advance. Find out about those conditions before signing any legal documents. Furthermore, learn about the market prices in your targeted area and don’t exceed the amount you have in your savings. One excellent tool, we came across is a French website where you put the name of two cities and they compare for you the living cost in each city. Here’s the link for those who are interested : https://www.lecoutdelexpat.com/
2 – The Neighborhood: Once you have determined a budget, your next step will be to locate your future apartment. For us, the metro station nearby was an important factor. We wanted the city center to be easily reachable to go to work every day. Another concern may be your neighbors or people living in the same building. Try to ask the property owner what kind of tenants they mainly have: young couples, families, elderlies, students, etc. And choose according to your own situation. Moreover, grocery stores and restaurants at a walking distance can be an asset. For example, we live closeby a Dollarama, Walmart, Tim Hortons, Harvey’s, Subway, Bâton Rouge, etc…
Beautiful cars we already saw in our neighborhood!
3 – The type of construction and hidden costs: Ask yourself if you mind living in an old building or do you prefer a brand new one. If the structure is not recent, know what you could potentially be taking on, beyond the rent. Are the walls thick enough and soundproof, are the windows well protected from extreme heat and cold? Are there cable hook-ups where you need it for the internet, tv? How much will everything extra cost you?
4 – Charges and electrical appliances included in the rent or not : Nowadays you can look for equipped or semi equipped apartments. You can also find furnished or semi furnished residences. If you feel more comfortable with one bill at the end of the month, look for an all inclusive apartment: Electricity, water, heating and AC. In Canada, the weather can be rough so our preference was to have a good AC and a reliable heating system.
5 – Services provided: Instead of paying a subscription to a sports center, you can look for a condo which have a range of facilities within the edifice itself. In our building, we have a rooftop swimming pool/terrace & gym accessible for all the residents. A security guard is also at the entrance 24h/day. The building has 2 lifts and our apartment has a nice balcony with a view. It is needless to mention that we would never have been able to afford this type of apartement in Belgium or France, it would have been overpriced!
6 – The lease : Prepare all the documents in order to fill the lease contract adequately. You will also need a home insurance. Personally, we chose SSQ Home Insurance but there are plenty of other possibilities.
7 – Furnitures : At last, when you move into your new home, start ordering your essentials such as your: bed, couch, table, chairs, desk, etc. as soon as possible. We went to Ikea because they deliver the same day your goods are purchased.
Romain fixed all our furnitures nicely.
We also bought second hand items through a facebook page. We got great deals on a stand light, a computer screen and a hair straightener.
For our cutlery, plates, pans, dishes, spatulas and kitchen knives, we went to Dollarama.
Some cool features we have:
* Magnetic keys to access our apartment and the lifts.
* Built-in wardrobes.
* The view from our balcony.
* The rooftop swimming pool.
We have been living in our new apartment for two weeks already and we feel like we are having a unique urban experience… Montreal is now feeling like our home. It’s time for a housewarming party!
See you in our next post!